We can rightly say that food has played an important role in the evolution of the European cultures, marking the differences between nations and classes. The type of food we eat, how we prepare it, consume and share it, is very revealing of who we are and where we are from, or as the renowned gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin was saying: “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
The Hungarian cuisine is definitely not for people on a diet, but it is one of the reasons I go back there almost every year. It uses a lot of sour cream, lard, paprika, fried garlic and onion. Hungarian food may seem heavy, but it is very rich in flavor and aroma and extremely tasty. Because I married into a Hungarian family, Hungarian food was not a novelty for me when I first visited Budapest, but rather a reminder of my mother-in-law’s cooking. Here are some Hungarian signature dishes that I grew so accustomed to during my married life:
- Goulash (Hungary’s national dish – a stew made with beef, potatoes, tomatoes, onion and paprika
- Lángos (a deep fried flat brad, usually served with shredded cheese and sour cream)
- Cold Sour Cherry/Apple Soup (made with fresh sour cherries or apples, sour cream and sugar; it is served cold)
- Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (made with sauerkraut, sour cabbage leaves, beef and pork, onion, sliced smoked pork, tomato sauce and paprika; the dish is very popular in all the Eastern European countries, but the Hungarian recipe is delicious)
- Chicken/ Veal Paprikash (a stew made with chicken or veal, sweet red pepper, paprika powder, garlic, onion, tomatoes and sour cream; it is served with galuska dumplings.
- Hortobagyi Meat Pancakes (a rich stew of minced veal or chicken tucked inside the pancakes, baked in the oven and served with sour cream and paprika sauce.
- Roasted Goose Liver (the Hungarian Foie Gras is served cold in its own lard with red onions.
- Dobosh Torte (made with seven layers of sponge cake sandwiched with chocolate buttercream and a layer of caramel on top to give it a tasty crunch)
- Eszterhazy Torte (made with five layers of almond meringue and buttercream and a swirls on top – it is one of Europe’s most famous cakes)
- Rétes (strudel) is a strudel type of layered pastry with a sweet filling (anything from apples, sour cherries, poppy seeds, walnuts, cottage cheese and raisins).
- Kurtoskalacs (chimney cake) made by wrapping pastry around a cylinder, coated with lots of sugar and baked in an open fire oven.